In this paper, a nonlinear observer is proposed for the estimation of the current ripple in a ferrite-core inductor working in partial saturation, mounted on a boost converter. The estimator is based on a recently proposed nonlinear inductance model, which expresses the inductance as a function of the inductor current, taking into account also the non-negligible effects of the core temperature. The proposed observer is implemented on a low-cost microcontroller and tested, both offline and online, on a real boost converter with different operating conditions. The offline tests show a satisfactory estimation accuracy both during the electrical (fast) and thermal (slow) transients. Due to the high microcontroller latency, some delays and inaccuracies occur during electrical transients in the online tests. This work suggests that, in order to exploit the observer for control purposes, the target architecture should be a high-performance microcontroller, a system-on-chip, or a field programmable gate array, where parallelism can be exploited to speed-up the computations. The proposed implementation can be instead suitable for switch-mode power supply (SMPS) monitoring purposes.
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